This issue contains an interesting collection of articles which cover a diverse range of topics but offer a serendipidous degree of thematic coherence. It begins with the keynote address delivered by Professor Marilyn McMeniman at the Annual Research Forum of the Queensland Institute for Educational Research (QIER) in August 1997. McMeniman offers a timely reminder of the continuing relevance of Dewey's grand vision in relation to educational research and the implications of this vision for overcoming the destructive effects of the 'tyranny of false dichotomies' in our research paradigms through greater tolerance of alternative views and concern for synthesis of different perspectives. The article shows how Dewey's central questions about the nature of knowing and the process of learning remain central to the concerns of educational researchers today. However, McMeniman illustrates methodological advances in studying these questions using examples of think-aloud protocols as a technique for discovering how learners learn. She concludes that as researchers and teachers we ought to be sharing the processes and results of this research more widely both because of the powerfulness of helping learners to understand their own learning processes and because of the role parents and caregivers play in the learning of their children.
Penney and Fox continue the theme of involvement in their article. They are concerned about the marginalisation of teachers in contemporary education reform and explore ways in which teachers can be repositioned in the process of reform. They present three case studies of teacher involvement in curriculum reform with differing degrees of success and draw conclusions about the factors that constrain and enable fundamental school-based change. They illustrate the potential for educational improvement which exists when teachers' professionalism is recognised and enlisted in the process of change.
Wyer, Danaher, Kindt and Moriarty also deal with involvement of teachers in their professional practice. In this case they deal with the importance of the teacher's knowledge of educational contexts in managing the learning of children from a sub-culture of itinerant families. They draw on sociological concepts of 'boundary maintenance' and 'border crossing' to analyse the difficulties students and teachers have in such situations and the ways in which such difficulties might be resolved. Their study of 131 children from the coastal and western show circuits of Queensland illustrates these difficulties and demonstrates the importance of recognising and valuing the characteristics of these children's distinctive and disparate educational contexts. Baker pursues a similar theme but from a wider perspective. She analyses the potential value of anthropology in teacher education, especially as a means of freeing teachers from the 'tyranny of their cultures'. She looks particularly at the issue of 'school-home disarticulation' as a major cause of failure among minority students. Although her research was conducted in the USA where minority issues have a different complexion from those in Australia, the conclusions are generally applicable to any modern society and especially to Australia with its multicultural populace. Several constraints on the effectiveness of an anthropological curriculum to equip teachers to deal with cultural diversity and to adopt culturally inclusive teaching practices are explored. Nevertheless, the author concludes that there is much to be gained from the infusion of anthropological perspectives in teacher education.
Sakrzewski continues the theme of diversity and inclusiveness, in this case with particular attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. She is concerned with factors which contribute to inequitable assessment of such students in education and explores some principles and possibilities for improving equity in assessment. She concludes that equity is not possible with centralised and standardised testing but requires local and situated assessment which is sensitive to the learning contexts and cultural assumptions of the learner. Instructionally integrated assessment also provides more opportunities for all students to experience challenge and success, opportunities which are fundamental to equitable access to learning. Various cautions are considered, including the need for culturally sensitive teachers, a theme which echoes the previous three articles. Finally, Sakrzewski calls for a collaborative involvement of parents in the education of their children as part of the process of inclusiveness and cultural respect, thus nicely complementing McMeniman's call for learners and parents to be acquainted with and involved in the processes of learning.
In sum this collection of articles offers the kind of multiple perspectives approach to teaching and learning which McMeniman sees as continuing the Deweyan tradition of educational enquiry. This includes especially, as McMeniman suggests (p. 5) that 'meaning is constructed by the learner; practice must be intelligent; knowledge is not the same as knowing; all learning is anchored in what is already known; learning occurs through social interaction; and the mere accumulation of information is meaningless'. It also includes, again as McMeniman suggests, respect for alternative ways of seeing the world, something which applies to alternative paradigms in educational research but even more pervasively to the whole cultural context of schooling and the way in which education should be conducted.
This issue of the journal is completed by a new section entitled 'Research Briefs'. This section includes short articles and abstracts which do not involve the extended treatment of articles in the previous section. The short article by Lewis considers the rhetoric and meaning of the term 'reading recovery'. The three abstracts summarise the content of the three prize winning posters at the the Annual Research Forum of the Queensland Institute for Educational Research in August 1997. Oliver was winner in the established researcher category and Miller and Chalmers were joint winners in the new researcher category.
Graham S. Maxwell
|Please cite as: Maxwell, G. (1997). Editorial. Queensland Journal of Educational Research, 13(2), 1-3. http://education.curtin.edu.au/iier/qjer/qjer13/editorial13-2.html|